Worms on a Chip

Advancement in miniaturization in recent years has enabled high-throughput, in-parallel, rapid, and precise operations in modern medical and biological research. Although numerous biomimetic devices have been inspired by nature cues, the artificial gadget

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Worms on a Chip Han-Sheng Chuang, Wen-Hui Wang, and Chang-Shi Chen

Abstract Advancement in miniaturization in recent years has enabled highthroughput, in-parallel, rapid, and precise operations in modern medical and biological research. Although numerous biomimetic devices have been inspired by nature cues, the artificial gadgets still cannot be on a par with their natural counterparts. Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), the smallest multi-cellular model animal, has become a popular platform for drug screening, biosensing, genetic engineering, neuroscience, developmental biology, and so forth since its first debut made by Sydney Brenner nearly five decades ago. The nematode C. elegans features small size, transparency body, fully sequenced genomes, high genetic similarity with humans, short life cycle, and simple neural network. The combination of C. elegans and microchip can prompt promising uses in some aspects. To cope with the new demands, the scientific community has endeavored great efforts to meet all sorts of worm maneuvers, such as sorting, immobilization, long-term imaging, confined culture, and biomechanics. The proposed manipulation repertoire then leads to realizations of a wide applications. Examples may include drug screening for pharmaceutics, point-of-care testing (POCT) for diseases, and fundamental research. Although worms-on-a-chip (WoC) appears to remain in its infancy stage of development, intensive research has gradually unveiled novel possibilities in many potential fields. This chapter aims to introduce the current development of WoCs and provides examples according to their categories. Pros and cons will be addressed in the end. Some practical uses will also be suggested for the future prospects. H.-S. Chuang (*) Department of Biomedical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan Medical Device Innovation Center, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan e-mail: [email protected] W.-H. Wang State Key Laboratory of Precision Measurement Technology and Instrument, Department of Precision Instrument, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China C.-S. Chen Department of Biochemical and Molecular Biology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019 M. Tokeshi (ed.), Applications of Microfluidic Systems in Biology and Medicine, Bioanalysis 7, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-6229-3_6

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Keywords C. elegans · Microchip · Screening · Model animal · Microfluidics

6.1

Introduction

The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a well-known model animal in research fields, such as neuroscience, genetic engineering, and drug discovery. C. elegans was firstly studied and introduced to the world by Sydney Brenner in 1963 [1]. The tiny multi-cellular organism measures around 1 mm in length and about 4 pg in wet weight [2]. In addition, the worm possesses only 302 neurons, 959 somatic cells, a short life cycle (~3 days), and more than 60% genetic similarity with human being. In 1998, C. elegans was even the first anim